France's Le Pen under formal investigation over alleged misuse of European Union funds

01 July, 2017, 01:01 | Author: Malcolm Fuller
  • Marine Le Pen is being investigated for breach of trust

Marine Le Pen, the leader of France's far-right Front National, has been placed under formal investigation over allegations that her party illegally claimed millions of euros from the European parliament to pay for France-based staff.

She had invoked parliamentary immunity as a member of the European Parliament during her presidential and parliamentary campaigns but had pledged to cooperate with the investigation once the campaigns were over.

Five million euro ($5.4 million) in parliament funds was allegedly paid to about 40 party staffers beginning in 2012, who were not working for members of the European Parliament but rather on party issues.

Prosecutors placed her under formal investigation for breach of trust.

Her lawyer Rodolphe Bosselut confirmed on Friday afternoon, with several National front politicians also under investigation.

Marine Le Pen lost the French presidential election to Emmanuel Macron in May
CHARLES PLATIAU REUTERS Marine Le Pen lost the French presidential election to Emmanuel Macron in May

At Friday's meeting with the magistrates, she read out a declaration and declined to answer questions, as allowed by the law, her lawyer told AFP.

"She is obviously 24 hours out of 24 both the president of the National Front and a European deputy".

Le Pen's party, the National Front, is already highly critical of the European Union as a whole, so this investigation is not expected to reflect negatively on Le Pen for her base. In February, the parliament said it would start to deduct the monies it claimed were owed unless she paid the money back. All have denied any wrongdoing.

The anti-EU nationalist beat the candidates of the traditional right and left to secure a spot in May's presidential run-off against pro-EU centrist Emmanuel Macron.

In legislative elections held directly afterwards she won a seat in the northern former coalmining region of Pas-de-Calais.

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